Cylance Pro Cycling's Shelley Olds finishes top 20 in Strade Bianche
In the season’s first World Tour event, Cylance Pro Cycling debuted a top 20 finish and strong team racing at one of the most difficult classics on the pro circuit. Shelley Olds (USA) finished 17th, while teammates Rossella Ratto (ITA) and Sheyla Gutierrez (ESP) at 25th and 44th respectively. With a start list of 150+ riders, the Strade Bianche is notorious for whittling the peloton down to one-third its original size. 2016 saw no exception, with just 59 finishers completing the 121km event comprised of multiple dirt road, gravel sections and steep, punchy gradients.
“The race was much harder than last year with almost 2000m of climbing, windy conditions, and many teams looking to claim the first win of the women's World Tour,” says Olds, who showed her fierce resilience taking to the start line just days after a crash at Le Samyn. “It was an aggressive race on top of an already extremely challenging course.”
At the third gavel section, the peloton broke apart with an attack by Boels-Dolmans’ Nikki Harris, and the gravel, winds and punishing terrain turned the day into an elimination race. Three of Cylance’s riders made the cut, after a crash took out Kristabel Doebel-Hickok and utilized the all-important team efforts made by Vale Scandolara and Rachele Barbieri.
‘I'm really satisfied about yesterday,” said Rossella Ratto, who raced with the hindrance of an impacted wisdom tooth. “The course was really hard but I could stay with the top riders till 10kms to go, being active and helping the team as possible. I was suffering so much from my wisdom tooth that sometimes I just got dropped because of the tooth pain. But I couldn't give up in such an epic race!”
In the end, victory went to reigning world road champion Lizzie Armitstead of Boels-Dolmans, with Katarzyna Nieuwiadoma of Rabo-Liv in second and Emma Johansson of Wiggle-High5 for third.
“We raced together as a team and finished the race confident that we gave all we could,” said Olds. “I am proud of this team and grateful for the individual sacrifices everyone makes for the team race after race.”
Director Manel Lacambra echoed Olds’ sentiment. “We fought all we could and the girls raced well. I am happy because I know the girls did all they can and they raced well. Strade Bianche is suited more for climbers and to have our sprinter in the first group makes us confident for the next races.”
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Elizabeth Armitstead (GBr) Boels Dolmans Cycling team 3:30:13
2 Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol) Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team 0:00:03
3 Emma Johansson (Swe) Wiggle High5 0:00:13
17 Shelley Olds (USA) Cylance Pro Cycling 0:01:45
25 Rossella Ratto (Ita) Cylance Pro Cycling 0:03:35
44 Sheyla Gutierrez Ruiz (Spa) Cylance Pro Cycling 0:06:17
Next up Cylance heads to Holland for the Women’s World Tour race Ronde van Drenthe.